Friday, December 11, 2009
I make myself a giant pot of soup at least once a month, eating some and freezing the rest in individual portions for lunches. Trouble is, I get bored eating the same lunch all month. I recently made a delicious pot of butternut squash and pear soup that was flavored with a vanilla bean steeped in cream. Amazing. Awesome. Ambrosial. . . . Until I had to eat that sweet soup for the 8th time. (As you may know by now, I'm not a huge fan of sweetness as a dish's main taste experience.) I was so over that soup by the end of that month.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
- vinegar (Balsamic, red wine, white wine, sherry)
- salt & pepper
- olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400. Cut the beet greens off, leaving about 1/2 inch of stem. Wash the beets well and put them in a baking dish with a big splash of water (about 1/2 inch of water). Cover tightly (either with a lid or foil) and bake for about 40 mins (for small beets) to 1 1/2 hrs. (for large beets) -- until a sharp knife easily pierces through the center of the biggest beet.
- After the beets have cooled a bit, peel them. I just slide the skins right off, using a small knife in any spots where it sticks. Cut them into quarters and place in a bowl.
- Sprinkle the beets with vinegar, salt and pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Let them sit for as long as you can -- at least 15 mins. (The beets need a chance to absorb the vinegar to be truly, truly delicious!)
- Add a little olive oil -- not too much!
The beets are delicious just plain like this, but here are my favorite ways to finish them:
1. Add some crumbled goat cheese and dill.
2. Prep some baby greens with salt, pepper, juice from half a lemon, and olive oil. Put the beets on top. Bonus points: add goat cheese and toasted walnuts. (And grilled chicken is yummy, too!)
3. Toss some sections of blood oranges (or whatever oranges you have on hand) with the beets. Also good over the greens described above.
Source: adapted from Cooking Light magazine
Serves: about 4
Time: about 7 mins. prep, 20 mins. mostly unattended cooking time, and 5 more mins. assembling
- 1 head cauliflower
- cooking spray (or olive oil)
- coarse salt
- about 1-3 tsp. butter
- Preheat the oven to 425. Prep the cauliflower: cut out the stem and separate the florets into small, bite-size pieces. Spray a baking sheet (jelly-roll pan) with Pam and spread the cauliflower onto it. Roast the cauliflower for about 20 mins, until it is nicely browned. Stir the florets once or twice while roasting.
- Meanwhile, put a bit of butter in a small frying pan and let it brown. (If you're rushed for time, use high heat and it will brown fast.)
- When the cauliflower is done, put it in a serving bowl and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle the browned butter on and toss.
Note: My neighbor adds mushrooms to the roasting pan, which sounds delicious, but I haven't tried it, yet!
- 1 winter squash of your choice (butternut, acorn, kabocha, pumpkin, etc.)
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- a few cloves of garlic
- parsley or thyme
- Preheat your oven to 375.
- Peel your squash with a sharp vegetable peeler (and a knife, if necessary). Scoop out any seeds/strings. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Toss with a few whole cloves of garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet (jelly-roll pan) and roast for about 40 mins., until tender and nicely browned. Stir every now and again to prevent burning.
- Toss roasted squash with some freshly chopped parsley or thyme.
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- Peel and trim the carrots and then cut them on the diagonal into thin slices. Toss the slices with a lot of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread the carrots into a single layer on a baking sheet (jelly-roll pan) and roast for about 20-30 mins. Definitely stir and toss them a few times, especially near the end. I like them pretty browned, but it's up to you.
Note: Alice Waters' recipe adds turnips to this, which sounds awesome. I've added wedges of onion and enjoyed that, too.
- 1 lb. bag frozen corn (organic and extra-sweet recommended!)
- 1 TBSP canola oil
- Coarse salt
- Preheat the oven to 450.
- Dump the corn into a colander and rinse with cool water, to defrost somewhat. Drain well. (I pat it with paper towels, too.)
- Spread the corn on a baking sheet (jelly-roll pan). Drizzle with the oil. Stir to coat and then redistribute in a single layer. Roast until the kernels start to brown -- the original recipe calls for 10 mins, but I like them pretty browned, so I go closer to 15-20 mins. I stir at 10 mins., though. (If I can remember!)
- Season with coarse salt to taste.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
QUICKIE SHEPERD'S PIE
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 tsp canola oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 TBSP ketchup
- 1 TBSP Worchestershire sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 c frozen peas
- 1 c frozen corn
- other veggies as desired (canned, frozen, steamed & pureed, or just fresh veggies chopped finely in the food processor)
- 1 tsp beef "Better Than Bouillon" (or 1 beef bouillon cube)
- 1/2 c water
- 1 TBSP cornstarch (might need more if you use a lot of pureed or minced veggies)
- leftover mashed potatoes OR 20 oz. package of refrigerated mashed potatoes OR large container of mashed potatoes from deli section of your grocery store
- 1/2 c sour cream
- 1 c shredded sharp Cheddar
- Turn on your broiler.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Peel and chop the onion and add it to the skillet. Add the beef and raise the heat to high. Cook, breaking up the beef, about 5 mins. or until the beef is browned.
- Stir in the ketchup, Worchestershire, and garlic. Then stir in any veggies you are using (frozen peas, corn, purees, whatever you've got). Reduce the heat and let simmer.
- Meanwhile, combine the "Better Than Bouillon" with the 1/2 c water and heat in a microwave. Stir to fully dissolve. Next, make a slurry to thicken the beef mixture: stir the cornstarch into the bouillon to dissolve. Pour the slurry over the skillet and stir well. Continue to simmer, letting it thicken. If it doesn't thicken enough, make another little slurry (1 TBSP cornstarch in 2-3 TBSP water) and add.
- Meanwhile, heat up your potatoes (either according to package directions or just in the microwave for a minute or so).
- Add the sour cream to the beef mixture once it is thickened. Then pour the mixture into a casserole dish (11x9 works well, but it's up to you). Plop the potatoes all over the top of the beef mixture and spread them out with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the cheddar over the top and pop it under the broiler until the cheese in melted and brown in spots.
TO MAKE GHOSTS: Save some of your mashed potatoes. Spoon them into a plastic baggie and snip off one corner. Squeeze the potatoes out of the open corner into a ghost shape. I did one blob for the body and another, smaller one for the head, with a little tail on top. Add eyes. (I used two black, disc-shaped sprinkles we happened to have around, but chocolate sprinkles or raisins would work. Better Homes & Gardens suggested capers, but my kids would freak out over that.)
Hope you all had a wonderful, fun Halloween!
Monday, October 26, 2009
- 7-8 c chicken stock or broth
- 1 butternut squash
- sage leaves, about 15-20
- 1 onion
- 3-5 TBSP butter
- 2 c Arborio rice
- 1/2 c dry white wine (I often use Champagne!)
- Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan)
- Cut the squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Peel the squash using a sharp vegetable peeler or a knife. Cut the squash into small dice.
- Put the squash into a heavy-bottomed pot with some sage leaves and about 1-2 c of the stock. Sprinkle in some salt. Cook until tender but not too soft, about 5 mins. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, chop up some sage leaves (about 5-8) and chop up the onion into small dice.
- In the same pot, melt 3 TBSP of butter and cook the sage for about a minute. Then add the onion and cook until translucent (about 5 mins.).
- Add the rice and a sprinkle of salt and cook over low heat for about 3 mins., stirring often. Meanwhile, fill up a 2-cup glass measuring cup with stock and heat it up in the microwave.
- Add the wine and turn up the heat. When the wine has been absorbed, add just enough hot stock to cover the rice, stir well, and reduce the heat. Keep the rice at a gnetle simmer and continue to add more hot stock, a little at a time, letting each addition be completely absorbed by the rice before adding more.
- After about 15-20 mins., the rice will be nearly cooked. Stir in the reserved squash and the Romano cheese. If desired, add another tablespoon or two of butter. Continue cooking for abother 5 mins. or so.
- Serve with extra cheese and chopped sage leaves.
Notes: I use the same pot to cook the squash and risotto, but you can streamline the time a bit by using two different pots and cooking them at the same time. (I'd rather have one pot to clean but spend a little longer in the kitchen!) Also, most risotto recipes tell you to heat the liquid at a simmer in a separate pot and then ladle it into the rice as needed. Again, I'd rather not use another pot. So I've been heating the liquid in the microwave and just pouring in a little at a time -- about a 1/2 c. Finally, for those who want extra credit: Alice Waters calls for sauteing some sage leaves in butter until crisp, as a garnish. I tried it and it was yummy, but I just don't usually have the time (or the inclination to use another pan . . . do you detect a pattern here?).
Saturday, October 17, 2009
So, my "fancy" daughter really loves oatmeal and she and I often share a batch for breakfast. But she has become attached to a particular recipe. It's good and nourishing (made with sweet potatoes or pumpkin, yum!), but I wanted variety. I suspected that -- like most preschoolers -- she would not be open to the change. Thus, "fancy oatmeal" was born.
I saw the original recipe for this oatmeal in an issue of Cooking Light magazine and have adjusted it according to what I normally have in my pantry. It's a hearty cereal and very cozy on a chilly morning. Almost makes me yearn for the snowboots and puffer jackets of my Pennsylvania childhood . . . Almost. Then I realize that I now consider a 58 degree morning to be "chilly." Oh, Southern California, you have made me a weather wimp!
My version makes enough to get my daughter and I through about half a week's worth of breakfasts. So, cook this on a Sunday and you can indulge in fancy oatmeal for most of the work week. I enjoy about a 1/2 cup at a serving, accompanied by 2 oz. of Greek yogurt w/ honey and walnuts and half of one of the amazing grapefruits I've been getting at the market. Fancy breakfast, indeed.
Source: adapted from Cooking Light
Serves: about 6
Time: about 5 mins. of prep and about 25 mins. of cooking time
- 4 c water
- 1 c steel-cut, Irish oats
- 1/4 c wheat germ
- 1/4 c sunflower seed kernels
- 1/4 c flax seed meal
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 c dried (unsweetened) cranberries
- maple syrup for serving
- Boil the 4 c of water in a saucepan. Add the oats and all other ingredients except maple syrup. Stir well to thoroughly combine.
- Reduce heat and simmer about 25 mins., or according to oatmeal package directions, stirring regularly.
- Drizzle some maple syrup over individual portions and serve.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Meanwhile, in my daily life as mom, I continued to cook for my family and for many of my friends. And my friends continued to ask me for recipes. I love to cook and am passionate about food and feeding my family, and my friends know that. And so, they ask: how did you prepare that cauliflower? How did you manage to make risotto with two kids in the kitchen? What did you do with all that eggplant from the market? Where did you find that sausage? And I love to answer.
Suddenly, it was obvious what my blog should be about: what I feed my family, and why. Hopefully, it will give you some ideas about what to feed your family. And I hope you'll share your ideas with me, too!
Oh, and the blog's name, "Cooking With Gries?" That's my husband's contribution. He always wanted to have a cooking show with that title -- a play on our last name, Griesbach. Of course, my husband only cooks a few things, so it would be a short -- albeit delicious! -- show.
So, let the show begin! On this pilot episode of Cooking With Gries, let's talk about my new go-to, everyone-is-happy dinner: Spicy Beans with Sausage.
My kids are bean freaks. If dinner has beans in it, they will eat, without complaining. Obviously, this means I cook a lot of bean-based dinners: jambalaya, black bean burritos, red beans and rice, chili . . . the list goes on and on. This little casserole is our latest favorite. It's also been a great meal for taking to neighbors -- many of my friends have recently had babies, and this is a comforting, filling, nourishing, homey dinner to bring to new parents. The dinner equivalent of sitting on the couch, under a blanket, by a roaring fire and a Christmas tree.
I found the original recipe in Picnic, by DeeDee Stovel, and tweaked it so that it worked for me. It's a flexible, forgiving recipe. I've used lots of different combinations of beans, but I do recommend having at least one can of white beans. Also, I've used various types of smoked sausages and just use whatever I've got on hand. If you are serving a large crowd, go for the 2 lbs. of sausage. Otherwise -- or if you're also serving a hearty soup or side dish -- 1 lb. will do fine. I've tried adding small cubes of carrots and potaotes and enjoyed both. Finally, I think this would be divine with some buttered breadcrumbs sprinkled on top near the end of the cooking time, but haven't tried it yet. (Let me know if you do!)
PS This freezes beautifully, too!
Time: about 20 mins. of work and 90 mins. of unattended cooking
- 3 cans of beans -- white, kidney, pinto, etc.
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 TBSP oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 x 10 oz pkg frozen corn
- 5 slices already-cooked bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
- 1 medium green bell pepper
- 2 TBSP tomato paste
- 1 TBSP brown sugar
- 1 TBSP white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- 1-2 lbs. kielbasa, cut into chunks
- 1/2 c grated cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Put the beans, with their liquid, into a Dutch oven or other large, lidded casserole. Add the bay leaf and bake, covered tightly, for at least an hour -- but longer is fine, too, if you forget about them. Just check every now and again to make sure they aren't drying out -- and if they are, add a splash of water.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet and saute the onion and garlic until softened, about 2 mins. Set them aside and put the kielbasa chunks in the skillet until browned, about 15 mins.
- Remove the beans from the oven and add all other ingredients. Stir very gently, so as not to break up the beans too much. Return to the oven and bake, covered, another 30-40 mins., or until bubbly. Just before serving, sprinkle with some cheese.